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G8 leaders agree to stamp out terror ransom payments

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

G8 leaders have agreed to stamp out the payment of ransoms for hostages kidnapped by "terrorists", British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Tuesday.

Downing Street said the world leaders meeting at a summit in Northern Ireland would also call on companies to follow their lead in refusing to pay for the release of abductees.

"Leaders agree to stamp out payment of ransoms to terrorists and call on companies to follow their lead," Cameron's office said on its Twitter feed.

The leaders of the world's most industrialised nations were focusing on counter-terrorism during talks on Tuesday, the second and final day of the summit.

British officials said Cameron had been keen to push the deal because funds raised by ransom payments were the main source of funding for terror groups, especially those in north Africa.

Britain was particularly focused on the subject following a hostage crisis at a gas plant in Algeria in January in which 37 foreign hostages were killed, among them six Britons.

Hostage-taking was worth $70 million (52 million euros) to Al-Qaeda-linked groups around the world over the last two years, British officials said.

To Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the north African branch of the extremist group, it is worth 33 million euros over the last three years.

Five of the G8 nations had been "shifting" on the issue while three did not pay ransoms as a matter of principle, British officials said.

In Britain, it is illegal to pay a ransom from the UK to anywhere else.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130618/g8-leaders-agree-stamp-out-terror-ransom-payments-0